Plagiarism claim "stupidest explanation" - PM
BELGRADE -- Aleksandar Vučić says the argument given by three scientists that Nebojša Stefanović plagiarized his doctorate was "the stupidest explanation he ever heard."
"I am very interested in the issue of the alleged plagiarism. I completed the state Law School with honors, and I thought I knew something in that area, but I've never heard a more stupid explanation," the prime minister said on Tuesday, adding that Education Minister Srđan Verbić "agreed" with this assessment.
"I think the professional community should assess whether it is plagiarism or not," Vučić told reporters in Belgrade. He added that "no one knows on what basis the three scientists concluded that Stefanović plagiarized his work."
The prime minister said this "attack, if someone was going to attack Stefanović, could have been a lot smarter" - but, he added, it seems that today it is popular to attack in this way.
When asked whether Stefanović, who serves as interior minister, would resign if the claims about his doctoral dissertation were found to be true, Vučić said, "In that case Nebojša will certainly know what to do."
According Vučić, the state's obligation is to provide the conditions for the work of NGOs and the civil society, and that this would also apply to the commissioner for information, Rodoljub Šabić, and Ombudsman Saša Janković, and the Anti-Corruption Agency, "although there have been no complaints from there so far."
The website Pešacnik on Sunday published an article penned by Uglješa Grušić (Assistant Professor, University of Nottingham), Branislav Radeljić (Associate Professor, University of East London) and Slobodan Tomić (PhD candidate, London School of Economics and Political Science) in which they claim that there are serious indications that Stefanović's doctoral work contains "a lot of plagiarism."
Stefanović defended his doctorate last year at the private Megatrend University in Belgrade.
He rejected the accusations and said the Commission at Megatrend appraised his work in a positive manner.
Vučić today also revealed that it was found that the site of Peščanika was "attacked" from two addresses, but that the attack had nothing to do with the state.
He said that the government will investigate all such cases and disclose who was behind them.
The prime minister added that as far as the apology that he on Monday requested from the OSCE, he found it "important to establish that what he said was the truth, that he was right, and that OSCE representatives have no evidence at all for the examples of censorship that they listed."
In response to Vučić's letter, the OSCE said yesterday that they received assurances that he personally and the government would address the issue of the blocking of websites and comments online.
Vučić said that in his conversations with representatives of the organization he "asked six times" about the Teleprompter website and the Blic blog, adding that he received "no response," but that the Blic newspaper acted fairly and said the case "had nothing to do with censorship."
The prime minister said that during the conversation they "agreed that there should not be any censorship and that the the state will take all measures when it comes to, for example, the site of Peščanik which has recently been attacked."
Vučić said the answer to the question "how the state could bring down websites and remove the blog" was similar to that received from Commissioner Rodoljub Šabić - "that there had been pressures, but that those could not be presented."
"Well, such are the answers. I am proud of the fact that they could not 'show and prove' to Serbia," he was quoted as saying.